A letter from the author
To my brothers and sisters throughout the Ven Mountains, I have scribed this Codex so that we may better understand our human neighbors to the West. Most of our written history has treated humanity much as it treated goblins, kobolds, bugbears and trolls. The ancient Chroniclers considered the humans to be savage disciples of lesser Gods, designed to be antagonistic toward we that sought to work the earth. Indeed those Chroniclers were correct in their view of humanity at the time. However, within the nation of Parna modern humans have ascended to a level of wealth and military prowess that rivals the nations of Orcs, Elves and Dwarves. This ascendancy has had a profound effect the Dwarven way of life in the Ven Mountains. The rise of the Guilds correlated with increased trade between the Ven Mountain Guilds and the human nation of Parna. The warrior Clan Ironspear has recently taken the unprecedented move of allowing humans into ranks, asserting that it is no longer a hereditary line of Dwarven Warriors, but a Clan of true Warriors regardless of race or birth. Even the Church of Droven has now permitted the formation of a human sect. Each spring more and more of our young craftdwarfs are leaving our mountains to seek work in the forges, quarries, mines and castles of Parna. Truly the fates of our two races have become intertwined.
I entered into this work not with the intention of discouraging or encouraging this relationship, but rather to provide a tool for dwarven merchants and craftdwarfs who may wish to conduct business with or within Parna. Furthermore, the recent Conquest of Parna by the nation of Ator makes it all the more important that our knowledge of humanity be up-to-date. As part of this undertaking I spent a season, reading all the available codexies on humanity or related to humanity. During this time I learned all four human languages spoken within Parna. Being a skilled scribe, engraver, blacksmith and warrior, I felt secure that I could find work in Parna. My plan was simple. Journey with other young fortune seeking Dwarves down from my city of Flintdagger into Parna to offer my services to humanity and to observe them. For five and half years I lived with all levels of society within Parna and assembled as complete a picture of the nation of Parna as any dwarf is likely to find. Upon returning to the Ven I was shocked to find out how little my brothers and sisters knew of Parna, and many of young dwarfs left for Parna with an incomplete picture. Today, 10 years after setting forth on this journey, I have completed my codex, and I am certain that such a tome is more valuable now then ever.
Again my reader, this tome is designed to be a tool, and if it is too long for a dwarf to read in one sitting I have divided into chapters which can be read separately or as compliment to another chapter. The first chapter deals with the geography of Parna, outlining the resources and major communities in each region. Chapters two through six deal with the different races of humanity that live in Parna. Finally Chapter seven deals with those regions that border Parna and effect life within Parna. In each chapter I tried to be concise, giving primary information only when necessary and providing direct and useful advice for the reader. My primary notes, bibliography and the journal of my travels are housed in the Unbroken Library in Ironspear and a scribed copy of the journal has been given to the clans Bronzebeard and Flintdagger as tribute. May this Codex be a tool to aide your labors.
Winnlunk Flintdagger, Chronicler of the 129th generation
All of Parna is divided into fours. There are four distinct regions of Parna, the River Parna has four arms, and there are four race of men within Parna. The river Parna defines the geography of Parna. The river Parna starts at the Falls of Goldenfraye in the Ven Mountains, and then flows West until it breaks into three smaller arms at the Town of Parna’s Pike. The wide fast moving stretch of river between the Falls and Goldenfraye is referred to as the Strong Arm. The northern fork of the river if referred to as the King’s Arm, the central fork is referred to as the Lost Arm and the southern fork is referred to as the Weak Arm. From Parna’s Pike the King’s Arm and the Weak Arm pull away from each other until by the time they flow into the Nili Sea each arm is at least 15 leagues apart.
The four regions are the Strong Reach, Complee’s Reach, the Miti Reach, and the Demon Reach. The Strong Reach makes up all the land West of the Ven that is drained by the Strong arm of the River Parna. Complee’s Reach is all land North of the kings arm and west of The Strong. The Miti Reach refers all the swamp lands along the Lost Reach as well as to the costal communities on the Nili Sea. The Demon’s Reach refers to all lands west of the Strong, north of the Grey Spine and South of the Weak Arm.
The Four races of men are the Ivanvil, the Mitirangu, the Sabbatallee, and the recently arrived Ator. While some scholar argue that Parna is indeed four nations under one ruler, I assert that it is union of these different people behind a single throne that defines Parna. In short Parna is a cultural unit, with distinct strata yes, but a cultural unit. Just as a mountain is made up of varying strata of rock so is Parna made up of diffent cultural strata. The oldest and deepest layer of Parna's culture is the Ivanvil people. The Ivanvil are a fair skinned people who have lived in the lands now called Parna for as long as humanity is known to have existed. Roughly a thousand years ago the Mitirangu began to migrate into the Parna river valleys from the wes. The Mitirangu are a shorter tanned skinned people endemic to the shores of the Nili sea. Even a thousand years ago the Mitirangu were accomplished farmers and earthworkers. They brought wheat, rice, barely and flax to river lands that would be known as Parna. It is their agriculture and labor that give Parna its wealth. They make more than half of the humans living in Parna today, and the majority of Parnan kings have come from Mitirangu familes. The current King of Parna however was born to the south in the nation of Ator. The Ator are distant cousins of the Ivanvil, and several years ago an army from the Nation of Ator marched into Parna and took the Throne from the Mitirangu king. They are a warrior people, disciples of the God Roark, and since the conquest Ator warlords have become the feudal masters of all the land. The Sabbatallee are the least populace of the human tribes. They are a tall lean dark skinned people who live a nomadic life style centered around the exploitation of game and the maintenance of their horse herds. Their caravans exist on the fringes of the Parna towns and farms. They are known to be thieves as much as the are merchants, but like both the Mitirangu and Ivanvil their ancestors also swore loyalty to the Throne of Parna.
In the following chapters the nature of each of these regions and each of the peoples will be described.
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CodexChapter 3: The Ivanvil By: axlerowes ( Society/ Organizations ) Ethnic/Cultural - Regional
The Ivanvil are the oldest race of men in Parna, the most defeated and the most dangerous
The Ivanvil are one of the four races of men inhabiting the human kingdom of Parna. Taken as a whole they are the least threatening to the well-being and sovereignty of the Dwarfish nation, but when dealing with individuals there is no race of humanity more deceptive or sinister than the Ivanvil.
Ivanvil occupancy of the lands of Parna predates the founding of the Bronzebeard dynasty. It is believed that the first characterizations of humanity by dwarfs found on walls of the Chronicle cave were descriptions of ancient the Ivanvil tribes. Thus the Ivanvil clans have lived in the Swamps, forests and plains of the Lands of Parna for as long humanity is known to exist. The Ivanvil’s long history of proximity to the dwarfish homeland did have some positive effects on their culture, as will be discussed, but it wasn’t until the founding of the Kingdom of Parna that our Chroniclers treated them as little more than an antagonistic race generated by lesser gods.
Here in I will briefly discuss, the material culture of the Ivanvil, their religion, their social customs and their history.
Dress and Appearance
In human kingdoms it is not always easy to distinguish one clan or tribe from another because hair color does not always correspond to their tribe. The typical Ivanvil is fair-haired, with blonde hair so light as to be almost white. They are tall for a race of men, with even the women standing over 5 and three quarters dwarven feet. They can range from lithe form to a more robust and broader body shape, though I never saw a stout Ivanvil. There faces are generally fair, with thin lips, light eyes, and often with a large hawkish nose. The men shave their beards, and both men and women wear their hair long. Like most humans their hair does grey or fall out as they age. The blonde, blue-eyed Ivanvil may make up at least half their number, but I did see brown, black and red haired specimens. Thus judging the tribal origins of human by skin and hair color alone can lead to some embarrassing missteps. It is better to judge tribal orientations by dress and mannerisms.
The Ivanvil dress is distinctive and maintained by strong social mores. Their clothing is made almost entirely of wool or leather, and is dyed either black or bleached white. Wearing browns or greens is considered a faux pas, perhaps because of it association with other human tribes, and reds are considered mourning colors. (Workmanship of Ivanvil fabrics rivals that of even dwarfish looms and in Mountain Halls such as Diamondspike or Tincrown they fetch a good price.) The typical Ivanvil male wears black leather boots, black wool breaches, a black leather belt with a steel dirk and perhaps a steel long sword. The shirt may be white or black, but often they wear a hardened black leather breastplate and either black leather bracers or gauntlets. When traveling the men typically wear a steal cap or small half helm. Depending on the season men wear either a cloak, a full cape or half cape. The capes may be black or white depending on the season or the task. The Ivanvil men I observed did not wear any jewelry and their weapons, leathers and fabrics are drab and unadorned. Occasionally designs will be painted on their faces or hands with red yellow or blue pigments. The red designs are for mourning, revenge and/or war, blue for men on seasonal holidays and yellow for personal holidays such as marriages or birthdays.
The Ivanvil woman, unless in mourning or seeking vengeance wear black skirts or frocks made of heavy wool. The dress always compliments with a black belt and a steel dirk, and often black leather boots. The typical Ivanvil dress is low cut to expose much of the breasts, but more importantly to reveal the lace undergarments. Ivanvil lace is a fabric of truly exceptional craftsmen ship. It is traditionally made with black or white wool fabrics, but more recently flax fabrics produced by the Mitirangu have been used by Ivanvil lace cutters. The lace is very much a status symbol among the women, and often dresses are cut so that lace exposes it self at the sleeve or below the hem of the skirt. The women sometimes were jewelry either a necklace, a light crown, bracelets but inexplicably never rings. All grown women also have a tattoo somewhere on their right arm as a mark of sexual maturity. The tattoo is clan specific and matches the tattoo of the highest-ranking female in their clan.
Society and Culture
It is important to correctly identify an Ivanvil because they are a quickly offended and violent people. When interacting with the Ivanvil it is important to familiarize yourself with the
allavets. Allavet is an ancient Ivanvil word that literally means
everybody knows. Today the term in used to refer to practices that set the norms for Ivanvil behavior. The Allavets are very much related and the Ivanvil themselves do not list or enumerate them, but I was able to observe four distinct allavets which dictate Ivanvil behavior. They are very similar to the
Virtues followed by Dwarven Noble Clans, and the concept was most likely stolen from our culture long ago.
Allavet is pride in the family or sota barn in the old Ivanvil language. This is the exact equivalent of the Noble Clan virtue off vanity. It means that every family member must appear clean, well clothed and strong. The result of this is that when encountering and Ivanvil, no matter their material wealth, you will likely be confronted with a well-groomed individual in clean and polished clothing. It is common for both Ivanvil men and women to carry leather polish, sewing kits, perfumes and even cosmetics. Additionally, the Ivanvil consider it an offense to ones family to express physical pain, or complain of discomfort. (This stoicism does not apply to emotional or social stress however and both Ivanvil men and women have no qualms about emoting anger or sadness.) The Ivanvil desire to represent strength may also contribute to the fact that every Ivanvil adult is always armed. Sota barn also goes a step beyond appearance and refers also to loyalty to ones family and respect for the decisions of the family. More often then not these are decisions made by the family matriarch.
The second allavet is the blood debt or blodskulder. Again this is similar to the old and outlawed Nobility practice of honor debts. However, in Ivanvil society the blood debt is shared by the whole family not just the individual, in short Ivanvil blood debts require that members of family revenge any wrong doing against another member of their family. An Ivanvil matriarch explained to me that blood debts are not always negative, and that every family member would return an act of kindness towards one member of an Ivanvil family. Additionally she assured me that blood debts were only paid against individuals and that a family would never hold a whole family responsible for a the crime of an individual. While this may be what she truly believed, I observed that blodskulder truly amounts to clan warfare. To illustrate this I will share an anecdote from my time spent with the Ivanvil.
During the fruit harvest festival many families come together to harvest pit fruits and berries from well-known orchards and berry thickets. I was staying with a family named Slone and working as blacksmith for the family matriarch. On the third day of the festival another the family, Ackhart, arrived at the Orchards. It was immediately recognizable that the two families shared animosity. The Slone matriarch explained to me that a daughter of the Ackhart family had enchanted the husband of Slone woman. The Ackhart daughter married the woman’s husband, and sent the wedding night bed linens to the Slone woman as further insult. The wronged Slone woman had a sister named Tilda who avenged her family by seducing the son of the Ackhart woman and bearring him a son, but refusing to marry him and thus denying him the rights of a father. The Ackhart boy’s sister, as revenge, kidnapped Tilda’s daughter before her accession to woman hood and marked her with the symbol of the family Ackhart. The feud went on for generations, eventually descending into blood shed, and as I counted the generations of family that were involved I realized that the blood debt was over 170 years old. During the festival I saw that the two families definitely intended to do each other harm, and they spoke openly about the animosity, but I witnessed no confrontation.
What prevented open conflict between the two families was the third allavet called
imorker. Imorker literally means
in the dark in the old Ivanvil language and it is a more nuanced concept than we dwarves are use to grappling with. It refers to the need carry out actions as quietly and subtlety as possible so not to disturb the status quo. When slaughtering the spring lambs, Ivanvil sheepherders invoke imorker, and in that context it refers to not disturbing the rest of flock and to keeping your clothes clean while you do it. Imorker was also invoked at the fruit festival I attended, but in that case it kept the feuding families from disrupting the festival by openly attacking one another. As the festival went on I came to suspect that almost all families shared some negative blodskulder with other families. Imorker allows Ivanvil society to cooperate when they must, but the morning after the festival's closure the matriarch's grandson was found dead in a cave two miles from the festival village.
Imorker and blodskulder lead directly to the fourth major allavet I identified, that is the honest lie or what they call alrigochlognare (all-RIG-oh-cha-log-n-air). Again a concept completely undwarven in nature, but it refers in part to the constant assumption that you are being deceived. For example if I an asked an Ivanvil man how many berries he picked today, he would likely say 3 buckets when indeed he had picked 6 buckets. What is more important to this concept is that both the person asking the questions and answering the question are aware of the lie. What the berry picker is actually saying is that
I am willing to tell you about three buckets, and it is possible that the asker may feel entitled to steal that many berries from the person. Quite amusingly I also observed that unnecessary honesty could be offensive to the Ivanvil. For example when of my sponsors daughter-in-laws bragged about purchasing four horses for her husbands birth day, the matriarch was extremely offended to actually see the horse sdelivered. The matriarch had assumed her daughter-in-law was lying about such an extravagant gift. The daughter-in-law should have known of the matriarch’s assumption, and thus matriarch was offended when the daughter-in-law embarrassed her by being honest.
It was explained to me however, that alrigochlognare does not apply to every situation and that some moments call for alrigalrig; or truth within truth. There were no clear guidelines for when honesty was required of a member society. As far I could tell complete honesty was the exception and not the rule. There are many more allavets then what I listed here, and thus the term should not be thought synonymous with the above concepts. But the four I chose to mention, I found to be most important to the Ivanvil cultural identity.
Random encounters with Ivanvil can be dangerous for several reasons. First many, though not most, Ivanvil living in Parna have little respect for the laws of the king and view highway robbery as fair and reasonable tax on anyone passing their lands. Be doubly wary because, murder itself, is not considered a crime among the Ivanvil, and many Ivanvil speak nonchalantly about the murdering days of their youth. In short, of all the human races you will encounter in the lands of Parna, an Ivanvil is most likely to be a murdering robber. Also, an Ivanvil is most likely to be sorcerer or learned mage. The Ivanvil themselves are aware of these tendencies, and their social interactions reflect it.
When Ivanvil, men or women, meet for the first time or by accident they will address each other only nonverbally at first. They will then cross the distance between each other and embrace, only after embracing will they begin to converse. They will continue to lock arms or keep hands on each for a good deal of their conversation. This touching while talking occurs in all formal communications. At first I thought it was sign of affection or in the case of the women an expression of sexuality. Only after numerous observations did I observe that this was more of a wrestling stance. The Ivanvil touch each other so that if one were to go for a weapon or attempt to cast a spell the other could attempt to quickly disrupt it. This embrace is the same if it were a man and woman talking, two men or a woman and a woman. This social convention limits most formal conversations to one on one exchanges. I did observe conversations without the touching, but they were very either informal exchanges among family or semi-hostile exchanges among rivals. Of course many Ivanvil are very worldly and experienced in Dwarven customs. A traveled Ivanvil such as a merchant or mercenary will often forgo this behavior, which can make their behavior hard to interpret. If an Ivanvil is speaking to you from across glade or a room is he being respectful of our customs or threatening? After spending a year with the Ivanvil, I learned to prefer the conversational embrace, because after a year I did not trust many.
When speaking to an Ivanvil it is important to start the conversation with a note about your family and declaration of your purpose. Of course they expect that declaration to be a lie, and this could be hard for many dwarves who follow the path of Droven closely. If you cannot bring yourself to lie, I suggest speaking an irrelevant truth or giving an incomplete explanation of your purpose. Directness in conversation can be offensive. Once the initial exchange is over it is customary to introduce the rest of your party. The leader or senior member of Ivanvil party is usually the eldest adult female in the group. If there are no females in the group, then one should wait for a leader to present himself.
Ivanvil society was and is governed by the family matriarchs. From time to time, our records or lore tell us that an Ivanvil family would gain the loyalty of several other families, and the families would subjegate large sections of what is now Parna. These small nations were not ruled by single leader or a body of law, but rather by group of powerful individuals and families who had shared interests. The alliances that our Chroniclers were aware of never lasted more than a generation. A millennia ago, when these oligarchies were the undisputed rulers of Parna, is referred to as the Golden age by the modern Ivanvil. The exemplary hero of this period is Queen Johannick. She is credited with constructing the Old Fortess at what is now known as Parna's Throne and making the alliance with a Dragon Queen which has kept the Strong Reach free of Dragons. There is likely some fact to these stories. The Chronicle of the Bronzebeard dynasty identified a human Sorceress named Johanna being invited to and present at the arming ceremony for Prince Hudd Bronzebeard. She was listed as being from the Western River lands. Additionally. most scholars believe that there must be a Dragon living incognito somewhere in the Strong. However, there are no records of formal human governments prior to the founding of Parna by its namesake, and the word Queen was not used among humans until the time of Parna.
Today though what political power the Ivanavil wield is divided between the appointed Lords and the family matriarch. The Ator King has promoted several dozen Ivanvil to the ranks of the peerage. These lords however are still subject to the rules of Ivanvil society and anywhere there is an Ivanvil lord there is a powerful matriarch and family behind that Lord.
Trade, Industry and Resources
In the years since the conquest of Parna by the Ator, the use of the Parnan Gold Plank has essentially ceased. With the Ator Lords either hording the gold or melting it down to produce personal items, all current trade is conducted using either a barter system or our dwarven silver pieces. The Ivanvil are no exception to these changes and I found dwarven silver to be the preferred currency among them. The primary Ivanvil industries are sheep and goat herding, trapping, hunting, weaving, tanning and herbalism with a every adult individual experienced in at least on of these trade. The secondary industries among their people are blacksmithing, smelting, sewing, stone cutting, masonry, agriculture, mining and spell craft. With the exception of weaving, sewing and spellcraft all their industries are inferior by dwarven standards. Ivanvil steel, which makes up most of the steel used in Parna, is tempered with nickel and various impure blacks. It holds an edge but is far more brittle than our dwarfish steel. I believe one reason for the inferiority of the Ivanvil workmanship is that few industries are practiced year round. Ivanvil forges, mines and villages are often abandoned or partially vacated for most of the year while the herds are moved to greener pastures or the game is followed. Ivanvil spell craft is an enigmatic presence among the tribes. Magic is often taught mother to daughter, though there are some male mages, and the source of this magic knowledge is unknown. It has been said that magic can learned by
wagering your shadow in the deep, and that the ones that survive return to their families with
knowledge ready for the (spell) books. Where this happens or if it happens I did not discover, but spell craft is ubiquitous enough that no family is without at least two or three mages. These mages are all learned mages who employ the ancient art of the Wiz'guards.
Most of the Ivanvil wealth is in their herds. Their mines, the location of which is a secrete among each family, produce almost nothing by dwarfish standards. Their agriculture is inefficient and produces little surplus. Orchards (pit fruits are their most abundant crop) are maintained not through planting but by chopping down all the undesirable trees around the fruit trees. Grain crops are planted in the spring by scattering seeds across a field and then having the herd cross the field. They are often abandoned until harvest time, and the yield is pitiful but reasonable considering the effort. Most dwarfish trade goods are well received by the Ivanvil. Despite their famous steel industry the Ivanvil will take unworked Dwarven steel to use in their own forges, and as most Ivanvil smelters also have a herd, so ore may be traded for wool or animals. It is a point of pride that the family forge the dirks and swords they use, but steel spearheads, traps, axes and armor have been traded.
The Ivanvil speak a language which is very similar to dwarven in grammar, and is obviously the parent tongue of Ator. Every adult Ivanvil male that I met also spoke Mitirangu passably, and a few even spoke a few words of Dwarven. The closeness of the Ivanvil and Ator languages in both grammar and phonetics allows most Ivanvil and Ator speakers to communicate effectively. The Ivanvil have no written language in their own tounge and the spellcasters and priestess employ the Ancient Word (Natal). The Priests of Droven are commonly employed by Ivanvil of means to scribe tombstones, border stones, ledgers, contracts and letters. However, I would judged that less than 1 in 20 Ivanvil could actually read Dwarven or the Ancient Word of Natal.
Unlike the Mitirangu or Ator the Ivanvil national and cultural identities were and are not linked to the ethos of single religion. The Goddesses Telm’erase (Murder) and Greeth (Jealousy) are commonly evoked by the Ivanvil, and I noticed that several of the families I met contained dedicated Priestess. At the large family gathering I noticed that small but significant number of the Ivanvil were living as followers of the Goddess Ya’naw (nature, life). But the followers of Ya’naw do not trade, and do not keep the customs of the Ivanvil as I have described them. On numerous occasions I found that Ivanvil men will take their herds or children to Mitirangu towns to get blessed at a House of Bell’ra. On even more occasions I observed Ivanvil men visiting Houses of Bell’ra to drink and socialize. On the whole, the Ivanvil use religion much as they do magic. They invoke the Gods when they need something, but I found that few Ivanvil let the wisdom of the Gods drive their actions.
Overview of Ivanvil history prior to The Conquest of Parna
The Ivanvil are a nation conquered three times. One-thousand years ago we know that Ivanvil villages and fortresses covered all the land drained by the river Parna. They were not a united nation, families were constantly warring with each other and with the neighboring Orc and Goblin tribes. Human raiders would even enter our lands, and sometimes with notable success. The Ivanvil were a formible warrior people. They built stone keeps, forged steel weapons and could weave powerful enchantments to augment any attack or defense. Yet, they could never unite, over come individual differences or put aside the demands of pride vanity and family loyalty that still define them today. I believe it is a failing of the Ivanvil spirit that has led them to be conquered.
Their first conquerors were passive. To the West of Parna are the Mitirangu nations, and over a five centuries ago our chroniclers started noting that Mitirangu villages were appearing in what is now Parna. The Mitirangu had no steel, knew little of stone cutting and had no knowledge of magic. Yet for over 500 years their villages grew in wealth and strength, while the Ivanvil warred among themselves. Legends speak of great battles in which Ivanvil warriors swam the moots and climbed the earthen walls of Mitirangu fortresses to slaughter all the people inside, but if such battle did occur they were too rare to stymie the Mitirangu tide. The Ivanvil were always more at war with themselves then they were with any external enemy. They could not present a unified front against any force. Over time the Ivanvil numbers have decreased, some through violence, but more through intermarriage and migration to a Mitirangu life style.
Three hundred years ago a degree of unity came to the Ivanvil with second conquest. The warrior Parna united all the human tribes all the River that would come to bear his name. This was the first human kingdom and Parna was its first king. All the tribes and families within the Kingdom swore loyalty to Parna’s throne and whoever may sit upon it. The Ivanvil steel fueled the military campaigns that Parna and his successors undertook to enlarge and enrich the human Kingdom and the Kingdom was defended from walls made of Ivanvil cut stone. The Ivanvil began to buy land and trade with the Mitirangu.
They remained a people, keeping their own ways and human sages have argued that were nation within a nation and not part of Parna. This is foolishness. They used the coin of the King, the gold plank, they bent their bows and drew their swords for the causes of the King, they spoke the language of the King, and members of Ivanvil families were admitted to the peerage. As any dwarf sage will tell you this made them part of the nation. Having spoke with many of Ivanvil for numerous families, I can also tell you that think of themselves of Citizens of Parna. Indeed, their own mythos has Parna born an Ivanvil, and they claim that his mother was a descendant of Queen Johannik though our Chroniclers report he was of pure Mitirangu birth.
The Conquest and the Ivanvil place in Parna: Some scholars of humanity assert that the fact several Ivanvil families sided with the invading Ator army proves that Ivanvil were a subjugated people who rebelled. This again brushes over the shifting winds and underhanded nature of human politics. I assert that it was because the Ivanvil tribes believed they were part of the Kingdom that they joined the invading Ator army.
The King on Parna’s Throne 37 years ago, before The Conquest, was of Mitirangu birth. His name, which has been stricken from all human records, was Shumba. He had designated as his successor an Ivanvil warrior/mage named Svengard. Svengard had been Shumba’s most trusted advisor and a close friend. Svengard had been born to a small Ivanvil family in south eastern Ator, but grew to be a respected man among all the tribes across. Shumba had been 57 years old when he had designated Svengard and it was believed Svengard would soon assume the Throne. No one expected Shumba to live for 40 more years, and when Svengard died before he could take the throne Shumba appointed his own grandson successor.
Svengrad had married into the powerful and ambitious Jocit family. The family lived along border south eastern border of Parna. The Jocits commanded at least three dozen warriors and half a dozen relatively powerful mages. They public denounced Shumba in the streets of Parna’s Throne; claiming that he had died years ago and that the kingdom was now ruled by an evil undead abomination, and that Svengard (who had acted as regent for a decade) had named his own son successor. They further accused the Church of Bell'Ra of supporting this plot and of betraying the laws of the Gods. The House of Jocit gained support from some locale families by they were unable to gain any real political traction for their cause. Shumba was a popular King and all of Parna had been growing in wealth during his 60 year reign. Most citizens of Parna, both Mitirangu and Ivanvil, seemed content to let the Jocit families grievances go unanswered.
Ulleena Jocit, matriarch of the family, then took up arranging an alliance between her family and one or more of the Barons in the nation of Ator to the southeast or Parna. Her documents were all scribed, sealed and delivered by the Priests of Droven and thus the nature of her correspondence is matter of undisputed fact. Ulleena Jocit promised the Baron Moltov that if he could raise an army, she would aide him in conquering Parna and see to it that he was made King. Specifically, she promised to obtain permission of passage for his army from the Dragon of the Green. The Dragon woods lies in the Ven pass between the Greyspine and Ven mountain ranges. Normally the pass is impassable because it is the domain of unpredictable and violent beast. Ullena made a deal of some sort with the Dragon to allow an Ator army to pass through the forest. Additionally Ulena would give her Daughter Margar to him in marriage and provide him with military and material support once he and his army entered Parna.
The conquest of Parna by Moltov and his army came to pass as did the marriage of Margar to Moltov. Ulleena was not a woman of letters however, and she did not understand the Ator view towards woman. She believed that Moltov would be joined to her family by marriage. I can only assume that Moltov’s style of absolute rule and his lack of respect for the Ivanvil Family loyalties has come as a shock to Ulleena and her kin. This is supported by the rumors that her son, Weir, has traveled north to the Wind forest and is seeking to forge an alliance with the Orcish tribes to strike against Parna.
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Chapter 6: The Sabatallee By: axlerowes ( Society/ Organizations ) Ethnic/Cultural - Country/ State
The Nomads of Parna; the smallest group but a strong influence on both the economy and cultural nature of the human nation.
Chapter Six: The Sabatallee (Sa-ba-TALL-ee)
The Sabatallee are a nomadic tribe of humanity that can be found in every part of Parna at some time or another. They are renowned merchants, infamous thieves, sought after entertainers, admired horsemen and enigmatic mystics. Of the four races of men that inhabit Parna the Sabatallee are by far the smallest in number and the least influential politically. In the last census before the conquest less than 1 in 20 Parnans are counted as Sabatallee, but their influence is wide spread. Every Mitirangu, Ator or Ivanvil living in Parna is aware of the Sabatallee and each culture has been influenced by this contact. Despite their lack of political influence and their limited resources contact with the Sabatallee is unavoidable and essential when trading with and within Parna. Thus any dwarf wishing to understand the character of Parna and to successfully trade within Parna needs to understand the Sabatallee.
The Sabatallee presence in Parna is seemingly incidental. They are a nomadic people of headers, merchants and peddlers and thus the borders of Parna mean as much to them as borders might mean to a fish or a bird. The earliest mention of the Sabatallee in Dwarven history regards a family of entertainers brought before one of the Bronzebeard kings nine centuries ago. This traveling group of performers and acrobats impressed the Bronzebeards, and were invited to stay as guests of the royal family. For over two years the Bronzebeard courtiers were audience to this Sabatallee circus. This relationship ended when evidence of theft was uncovered and several members of the family were executed and the rest exiled. After spending a year traveling among a Sabatallee Caravan I find that this antidote is very telling of the Sabatallee character.
In this chapter I will discuss how to properly identify a Sabatallee, discuss the merits and drawbacks of such encounters, and then briefly outline the material and mystical culture of the people.
Dress and Appearance
Properly identifying a Sabatallee can be very difficult because they are often fluent in other local languages and they share many physical characters with the other human tribes of Parna. The typical Sabatallee has tan skin the hue of rich ale, very similar to the tones of most surface dwarves. The hair is always dark and fine. Both men and women tend to wear it long and braided, often with beads tied into it. In terms of height they are moderate for men, but there is much variety in this aspect. Youthful Sabatallee tend towards a lithe form, but I did note that sever obesity was relatively common. These specimens were exceptionally large, I would say often weighing 2 to 3 times as much a lean person of the same height and much of that weight must have been fat. I noticed this phenomenon occurred mostly among middle-aged men who had acquired a great deal of wealth and perhaps respect among the community. Indeed, the weight gain was something much commented on among the Sabatallee. It appears that the weight is a symbol of status, but exactly who deserves to take on that weight is something much debated. Phrases such “deservedly fat” or “earned gut” are often applied to men of respect. However some may also be referred to as “fat before their time” and a common insult is “no purse for that belly” referring to men who represent wealth that they don’t actually possess.
The Sabatallee tend towards long faces and they have high rounded check bones and almond shaped eyes with sepia colored irises. I have never seen a blonde or blue eyed Sabatallee. They seem almost incapable of growing beards, occasionally one will have light scruff but for the most part they shave that off with flint or steel blades. While subtle physical differences are detectable by the trained observer, they could easily be mistaken for a rather tall Mitirangu.
Dress is by far the best way to detect a Sabatallee. When traveling both the men and women wear large wide brimmed soft leather hats, often decorated with a band or feathers. Most of their clothing tends be leather, soft skin riding pants, skin shirts and short leather coats are the norm. The hat and the short coat are the surest shines that one is talking to a Sabatallee. Other aspects are hard to distinguish because they dye and decorate these items according to personal taste and beyond. The preferred color schemes are deep earthen tones and autumnal colors. The typical Sabatallee piece of clothing will also have multiple glyphs painted or dyed into it and it will commonly be adorned with small tassels, beads or charms. While traveling most Sabatallee carry with them a whip and war club regardless of gender. I noticed that they tend to stay away from tunics and tend to wear soft shoes rather than hard boots. I seldom saw one wearing true jewelry but most hang various charms from necklaces and earrings. However, jewelry is a sign of status among the Sabatallee and the wealthy and often heavy-set Sabatallee do wear gems set in gold or silver.
Society and Culture
The other human tribes center their culture on social organizations, the central piece of Mitirangu life is the village, the Ivanvil around the extended family, the Ator nobility center society around the warrior hierarchies, but the Sabatallee center their society on their horse herds. I find the fact that they center their cultural on material wealth makes the Sabatallee lifestyle more dwarven than other human cultures. Sabatallee horse (and donkey) herds are driven to and from various pastures and water sources all year long by groups of Tenders. The groups of Tenders fluctuate in number and skill set during the course of the year. For example during the summer when a herd is grazing and the fawns are developing the number of tenders can get quite small as groups of Sabatallee venture out in search of other sources of food or adventure. Then when autumn approaches more Sabatallee will return and assist in driving the horses to a winter pastures or to markets. When the Sabatallee refers to a herd they more accurately refer to the horses that follow a particular route. The horses of the herd are often in as great a flux as their tenders. When a Sabatallee or group of Sabatallee leaves the herd for whatever reason it is not uncommon for them to take several horses or donkeys per person. These horses could be riding horses, sport horses, work-horses, pack-horses, trading horse, racing-horse, war-horses, hunting-horses and in some case meat or milk mares. The herds are always made up of a wide variety of horses, but their breeding is monitored closely in order to ensure pedigrees for each of the afore mentioned subsets. The Sabatallee have an enigmatic and complicated system for maintain breeding schemes without corrals and stables, but it appears effective.
Where as some cultures define the stages of their lives in relation to their trades (employed, unemployed, retired) or their marriages (bachelor, maiden, married, divorced, widowed) the Sabatallee see their lives always in relation to the herds. Three uniquely Sabatallee words are used to describe the different phases of an individual's life: Spion is away from the herd, Intre is between herds, and Turma is with the herd. If we to imagine the life of a Sabatallee as a house, than it would have three levels, Spion, Turma, and Intre and during the course of a Sabatallee’s lifespan he may occupy each of these levels at different times. During my first year in Parna I lived with a Sabatallee Caravan (a group of hard working merchants). The Intre lifestyle refers to the caravans, peddlers, circuses and rodeo groups and this lifestyle does demand a lot of dedicated labor, mostly moving from one place to another, but also trying to make a profit at what ever place they land. Turma was an entierly different, and undwarven lifestyle. During my fifth year, when I was returning home, I spent ten days living with a group of Sabatallee herd tenders in late summer. It is an unpleasent lifestyle. While there is some basic craftmaking (embroidery and leatherworking) most of the labor involved the chasing of hooved beasts: either hunting or herding. While in Turma the Sabatallee sleep on the ground, eat a diet of mostly fire cooked meat and worst of all the chief activity of Sabatallee living Turma is gossip. A typical day of a Turma Sabatallee would be to do several hours of work with the herd, some minor food preparation and then to sit around the fire smoke and talk about things which may or may not be true. Spion simply refers to any Sabatallee that is not living a Sabatallee lifestyle. Sabatallee that have become sailors, farmers, or horseless shopkeepers are referred to as Spion.
I found that inquiring about one relationship to a herd was considered to be in poor taste. I do not understand this rationale for I have stood with a pair of Sabatallee men on the deck of small fishing ship in the Nili sea and neither of them would admit to being Spion or Intre. Yet they were quite willing to discuss the lifestyles of other Sabatallee. For example they tried to distract from their own life choices by suggesting that working as fisherman was not really Spion, because it was less Spion than one man's sister who had married a Mitirangu and taken up farming. All I can say in conclusion is that no matter how a Sabatallee is living they never lose their tatse for fruitless gossip.
The Sabatallee also have different social ranks. In addition to living Spion, Turma or Intre the individual will also be considered a success, a child or thief. These social ranks are different than the peerage and peasant rankings of the Ator and the distinctions of class within dwarven society. This ranks are informal, applied by consensus and unevenly. For example one year a man may be considered a success and next a child. Understanding the three social ranks is important for understanding and having profitable trade relations with the Sabatallee.
These social ranks are not bestowed by formal recognition or by a body empowered to do so, they are not inherited and they carry with them no specific trappings of responsibility or duty. The social ranks, such as they are, are used as descriptors of a person's lifestyle, abilities, material wealth and goals. The three social ranks work loosely as a progression, and can be placed in a hierarchy. The term child is used to not only to refer to children but any Sabatallee that makes a living through the direction or generosity of another person. The Sabatallee do not use a single name to refer children, but will refer those considered children as "little brother", "daughter", "niece" and so on. Most herd tenders are called children, because they are collectively caring for material wealth and each other. Even when a Sabatallee caravan is away from the herd many of the members of the Caravan will be referred to as children. This is not a title based on age, but rather seems based on a perceived lack of ambition. Sabatallee who are content to work the herds, hunt and enjoy the simple pleasures of a life supported by that work are referred to as children.
A Sabatallee who displays energy or ambition is referred to as “M’veezee” which is the Mitirangu word for the thief. The term thief does not have the same negative connotation among the Sabatallee as it does among other groups nor does it refer to one who steals. A thief among the Sabatallee is any man or woman who is pursuing wealth. Someone earns the title of thief if they are actively engaged in mercantilism, gambling, actual thievery, and various types of swindles or cons. While these people externally appear no different than the ones considered children the best way for dwarf to distinguish the two is to characterize the thief by the possession of an energy that the children lack. When dealing with the Sabatallee in terms of trade, you will often find yourself directed to deal with an M'veezee. Do not be put off by this, because they are simply refering to somebody with ambition and drive.
Finally there are the individuals referred to by the Mitirangu word for success: Kisudi. Success comes in several types, but they are all characterized by measurable achievement. There is often a lot disagreement on who is a success and who is not. While among the Sabatallee for over a year I heard of only three living individuals who were universally considered successes. Interestingly they each lived very different lifestyles. The first success was a hermit woman named Bibi Monara. She was accomplished at the mystical art of marking or hexing. Though she was born Sabatallee and she lived a very different lifestyle than most of her people. She worked as subsistence farmer and local mystic in the South East Corner of Parna in a constant state of Spion. However all the Sabatallee knew of her and many would make special trips to obtain her advice or make use of her services. Another agreed upon success was man named Pasha, who I actually met on more than one occasion. Pasha would have been considered a Child, in that he always lived with the herd and seemed to have no designs upon material success. Yet Pasha was universally recognized for his achievements at the various Sabatallee equestrian sports. He was slight man with a quiet manner and an undemanding personality. Yet he was universally popular amoung all Sabatallee I spoke with. The final undisputed success was man named Lyco Veezee. Lyco was a huge man, with heavy jowls; fat hanging from his stomach and his back and height exceeding at least two meters. Lyco was extremely wealthy, and he dressed accordingly. He wore large jewels on his fingers and wore custom made dwarven style clothing. The opinions of him varied widely but he was universally regarded as a success. He maintained a home in the Dwarven city of Flamecopper, owned by right of debts several herds and commanded a large traveling circus. It is popular speculation that he has chests of wealth buried all over Parna.
Trade, Industry and Resources
The Ator conquest has been particularly hard on the Sabatallee way of life. First and foremost the invasion decreased the circulating currency. The new feudal laws prevent the peasent from any indepedent industry and all the gold at the Parnan mints was confiscated by the Ator nobitility. The Parna currency, the Golden Plank, essentially ceased to exist as far as the average peasent was concerned. This deeply hurt the ability of the Sabatallee to make a profit as middleman merchants. The Sabatallee peddlers have adapted however, namely they have either gone to barter system in which they trade mainly for food and shelter, or they have adopted Dwarven silver as their standard currency. In my experience most Sabatallee peddlers have compromised to work both with barter and coin, but their profit margins have decreased. One way in which the Sabatallee peddlers are dealing with is by being less mobile. Prior to conquest Peddler family would spend little more than a week near single settlement (enough to attend at least one market day but seldom more), but now peddlers will sometimes set up shop for a season trading more for subsistence than profit. Also the entourage that accompanies peddlers has become smaller, being that Peddler can support fewer “children”. The loss of the Golden Plank and the decreased mobility of the Sabatallee peddlers has actually been boon to Dwarven trade. With the Golden Plank essentially out of the hands of the commoner we no longer have to face the devaluation our currency when dealing with Sabatallee. The Teamster Guild has also seen their contracts to carry goods into the human lands increase ten fold since the conquest. Some of this could be due to the Ator migration and their demand for dwarven goods, but it is also in part due to the fact that Sabatallee free traders have started carrying fewer goods and carrying them less often.
The Ator conquest also greatly devalued the Sabatallee’s horse herds. Prior to the conquest the Sabatallee had a monopoly on horse breeding, training and trading in Parna and traded strongly with the bordering Kingdoms. The Ator themselves are accomplished horsemen and brought with their own herds. While the Ator have no engaged extensively in horse-trading they are not motivated to acquire Sabatallee breeds. Prior to the conquest the richest families in Parna were stable customers for Sabatallee horse traders. Now the richest families in the Parna are Ator warlords and they no longer interested in the Sabatallee horse. Additionally the Ator concepts of feudalism conflicts with Sabatallee life style, since in the feudal system all peasants are consider chattel and are not allowed to leave the lands of their lords. Some Ator Lords who thought they had awarded a large labor base were shocked when large percentage of their subjects just wandered off one night.
The most violent conflicts resulting from this confusion came not between the Sabatallee and the Ator but between Ator lords who accused one another of stealing the others labor force. After spending a year with a Sabatallee caravan I am certain that the Sabatallee themselves encouraged this confusion. Unlike the Ivanvil and Ator, the Sabatallee do not talk themselves into fights, but as I have noticed talk themselves out of fights with conniving and charming ruthlessness. To resolve this issue King Moltov named all Sabatallee his own property. The political reasons for this move have been debated, but it ended the some of the issues of Sabatallee mobility.
Sabatallee industries are limited but relatively unique. The most prolific industry is obviously that related to products obtained from the horse and donkey herds. But the Sabatallee also have a special method for treating leathers which yields a soft water resistant leather that his highly desired among Dwarven labor classes. Sabatallee jewelry is popular among the human lands, but the quality of their wares are embarrassing by Dwarven standards. However, Sabatallee jewelry was quite fashionable in Ironspear and Diamondspike for almost twenty years three centuries and a market for these goods may be rekindled. Two industries in which the Sabatallee still excel are in entertainment and the mystical trade of hexing or warding.
Sabatallee circuses and rodeo are much sought after as a draw for market days, or to provide entertainment for weddings, noble gatherings and other large-scale affairs. Sabatallee dancers, acrobats, stunt riders and puppeteers are generally trained since childhood in manner, which resembles our trade legacies. Any dwarf that has the opportunity should attend one of their performances. (I do advise that you stay away from gambling booths in that no dice, wheel or dart bares a seal of Droven and all games appeared rigged in some fashion.)
The mystical industry of the Sabatallee is often referred to as natural magic or directional magic. Sabatallee are the only human tribe that maintains the tradition of placing wards, hex and runes on items in order to imbue with the supernatural powers. These hexes and runes can change the nature of an object making it lighter, stronger or sharper. The wards may also provide protective energies against various threats. The art of bestowing these items is held by very few Sabatallee but it is a common enough art that most groups carry with them some hexed or warded items. In the past these items have been used to cover the gaps in Sabatallee technology. For example prior to the Ator invasion Sabatallee horsemen worked with out stirrups, and went into battle without barding for their horses, yet the use of warded horse brass allowed them cover this gap. Additionally the Sabatallee did not always have access to steel. But by placing Runes of the obsidian or stone items they were able to use stone weapons as effectively as steel. Indeed the obsidian blades are much sharper than steel blades. The magic of hexes and wards in all case I observed were transient and a Dwarf seeking to purchase an item so imbued should do so that in mind.
Most Sabatallee speak Mitirangu when in private but most Sabatallee that venture away from the herds speak several other languages. Indeed there are neighborhoods of permanently Spion Sabatallee in Ironspear who speak only Dwarven. I do believe that there is a Sabatallee language however; because of words like Spion which are not found in any other know language. What all Dwarves need to be aware of though when dealing with the Sabatallee is that they have a complicated and complete system of hand signals by which they communicate. The teaching of this language to children is one of the sure the signs that child is being raised Sabatallee. This language of hand signals also allows Sabatallee merchants to carry on silent conversations in front of potential customers.
Sabatallee culture is not strongly associated with any one religion. The Sabatallee that I met employed a pray as you go attitude towards the gods, often invoking the God they thought best suited the situation as opposed to a god they believed champions their lifestyle or a God who stands as a personal guardian. I did note a number of disturbing references towards the dead and I started to suspect that they may engage in a type of ancestral worship. On whole though the Sabatallee appeared to adopt religions, as they did manners or languages, in order to fit in with their surroundings.
History and Role in the Recent Conquest
Near to nothing is known about the Sabatallee's history prior to their entrance into Parna. They first appeared in our records directly ahead of the Mitirangu and it appears that they also came from the West as well. We know that Sabatallee tribes move through areas like Swazzcar, and are found in the Ven Mountains as well. However many tribes are a part of Parna and do see themselves as such. Three hundred years ago the Sabatallee in Parna at the time took an oath of loyalty to Parna, and a hundred years later the Sabatallee supported Complee in his conquest of the north. When I asked Sabatallee about the history of their they talked not of a connection to ancient homeland in the West but a connection to the grazing fields found in Parna, which we know they could not have occupied more than 1,200 years. The Sabatallee used the Parnan currency, paid taxes to Parna, accepted Parnan laws (though they did not always obey them) and fought for the Parnan king when he called for them. The Sabatallee are part of Parna.
During the 300 years of Parna’s existence as nation the Sabatallee have made up the mounted arm of their military. Sabatallee horsemen have always been effective scouts and skirmishers, but they are not professional soldiers and were not equipped as such either. During the Conquest the army of Parna met the advancing Ator force with a large number of foot men supported by Sabatallee horsemen. When the mounted Knights of charged the Sabatallee rode out to flank them and tried to break their lines. The Sabatallee failed, the Ator Knights ignored them as they rode into the Parnan foot soldiers. Then Sabatalle were then scattered by the Ator footmen that followed the charge. While the actual number of Sabatallee at the battle was less than the number of Mitirangu or the Ivanavil, I believe that the Sabatallee sent in a greater percentage of their people. The Sabatallee losses that day were great and every family I spoke to lost at least two members during the war. The Sabatallee’s future in Parnan military and Parna in general has yet to be decided.
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